Rams become big fans of 'Skins
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Dec. 27 2006
FIRST ORDER The Redskins must beat or tie the Giants to keep Rams' hopes alive.
LONG ODDS If that happens, the Rams still will need plenty of help from other
Scott Linehan wasn't wearing a Ladell Betts replica jersey Tuesday. Nor was he
humming "Hail to the Redskins."
But make no mistake, Linehan suddenly has become a fan of Washington's NFL
team. Not to mention the New Orleans Saints and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Four things must happen for the Rams to find themselves in the playoffs at 8-8:
— They must win their season finale at Minnesota (6-9) on Sunday.
— Carolina (7-8) must lose or tie at New Orleans (10-5).
— Atlanta (7-8) must lose or tie at Philadelphia (9-6).
— The New York Giants (7-8) must lose or tie at Washington (5-10).
But nothing else matters if the Giants defeat Washington, because that game
takes place Saturday night. The other three contests take place Sunday
afternoon. If the Giants win Saturday night, the Rams will be eliminated from
playoff consideration roughly 14 hours before they take the field against the
Vikings at the Metrodome.
Linehan said he isn't concerned about a letdown by the Rams on Sunday if the
Giants win Saturday night.
"We've put ourselves in a position at least to talk about the playoffs at this
point," Linehan said. "And if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. But our
guys will put out a great effort, regardless."
If the Giants lose, Sunday could be very interesting for the Rams. In terms of
playoff positioning, New Orleans is playing for nothing Sunday against
Carolina. The Saints already have locked up the No. 2 seed and a first-round
bye and cannot overtake No. 1 seed Chicago. So it's entirely possible the
Saints could rest some starters against Carolina.
"Those are things that are out of our control," Linehan said. "We've just got
to take care of our part and hopefully win the Minnesota game."
The fact that the Rams are even talking playoffs is fairly remarkable given the
fact that the team was 5-8 after a 42-27 Monday night loss to Chicago. A couple
of weeks ago, a million things had to happen to get the Rams back in the
playoff picture. Well, most of them have happened, including Rams victories
over Oakland and Washington. And now "only" four things must happen on Saturday
"Some of those (outside) things have worked in our favor to give us a chance to
have a legitimate shot to make the playoffs," Linehan said. "Which really
supports what we were preaching from the very get-go: 'You've just got to keep
playing the games.'
"So here we are. We're still outside looking in, needing a little bit of luck
that things go our way. But we're in a lot better position than you would have
thought a few weeks ago when we were 5-8. ... It was more of a dream than a
reality. At least it's a little closer to the (reality)."
Among the four other NFC teams with 7-8 records, the Rams would lose
tiebreakers with three. Assuming the teams finish the regular season with 8-8
— Carolina wins the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of its 15-0 victory over
the Rams on Nov. 19.
— The New York Giants win the conference record tiebreaker with a 7-5 NFC
record compared to the Rams' 6-6.
— Atlanta wins the strength-of-victory tiebreaker, meaning the teams the
Falcons have beaten have a better overall record than the teams the Rams have
Only in the case of Green Bay — the fifth NFC team with a 7-8 mark — do the
Rams hold the tiebreaker edge, by virtue of their 23-20 victory over the
Packers on Oct. 8. So from a Rams standpoint, what the Packers do in their
season finale Sunday at Chicago (13-2) isn't likely to matter.
In the improbable event of a Rams tie with the Vikings, the Rams would need
losses by the Giants, Carolina, Atlanta and Green Bay to make the playoffs at
Last week, Linehan said he didn't even want to know what the playoff
possibilities were until his team defeated Washington. After a 37-31 overtime
victory over the Redskins, Linehan confessed that he didn't really know what
the scenarios were in the jumbled NFC. He knows them now.
"We've got a couple guys on our staff that have become playoff scenario
experts," Linehan said. "But these games had to be completed this weekend, so
we knew exactly what they were. Again, it doesn't matter if we don't win the
(Minnesota) game. We've got to take care of that. ..."
Even so, coaches always have to plan ahead, and Linehan has members of his
staff doing some early preparation work on possible playoff opponents.
"Our quality control coaches will work on it as if we are going to make the
playoffs," Linehan said. "And we've got an idea of the most likely team or two."
The Rams can only make the playoffs as a No. 6 seed, meaning they can only play
on the road against the No. 3 seed in the wild-card round Jan. 6 or 7. The No.
3 seed will be the NFC East champion, either Dallas or Philadelphia.
Re: Rams become big fans of 'Skins
Sweet! So we go to Dallas/Philly and kick some you know what!!!